A Message from Chief Camper #ShareGJ

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JCamperEarlier this month, Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper shared some thoughts with employees of the City in an internal newsletter.  It seems timely to share his sentiment with a larger audience, as an acknowledgement of the spirit unity that has revealed itself in our community after the passing of Deputy Geer and, now, Delaney.  As an agency, we’re grateful for Chief Camper’s thoughtful words, and thought others may benefit from them, too.

Communities can be like extended families. Their members don’t always get along.  They may squabble or disagree.  There are some whose company we enjoy, and others who we go to great lengths to avoid.  Weddings and holidays can be occasions for joy or dread, depending on the particular guest list.  But when tragedy strikes, families…and communities…set aside their differences, overlook each other’s annoyances, and embrace in their shared sense of loss and grief.

 Our community is no exception, and though we may occasionally and bitterly disagree about issues, politics, or priorities, we come together in support of our members who are gamely trying to overcome challenges, or facing losses so crushing that we can’t help but make them our own.

 The senseless death of Deputy Geer was one such loss. Whether we knew him personally, or not at all, he belonged to all of us.  He represented our sense of safety and goodness.  He was a critical steel beam supporting the solid structure that is our community.  And when that structure is compromised, we come together as a family to support one another and share in the work it takes to shore up the structure.  This community clearly did that, and I for one could not be more proud.

 As a part of the miles-long procession honoring Deputy Geer’s life and sacrifice, I was rendered speechless by the community show of support for him, his family, and the profession of law enforcement. Thousands of our ‘family’ members lined the streets, in salute or with hands to their hearts.  Others simply stood weeping, or supporting children holding colorful and carefully-handcrafted signs of support.

 Many of you shared in that tribute, or found other ways throughout the recent weeks to offer support. Whether you helped light-up our community in blue, donated to a fund, or came out to support the epic Broomball benefit, every contribution mattered.  And every contribution began the long process of shoring up our shaken structure.

 On a crisp blue day this last December I went up to the airport to stoke the flying hobby that helps clear my head, while draining my wallet of any residual funds. Parked at West Star Aviation was a gleaming Falcon 900 private jet, considerably more luxurious than the aging two-seater Cessna I was about to occupy.  Now I wouldn’t be able to come up with the name of a Taylor Swift song even if you offered me money, but I do know a little about airplanes, and I suspected that the owner of that impressive ride with an “N” number ending in “TS” was about to make a little girl’s dream come true. 

 That little girl, of course, is Delaney Clements, and this community has embraced her and her family in the same loving way that they have embraced the family of Deputy Geer. We’ve made her our own, through pink fire trucks, fundraisers, candlelight vigils, or digital campaigns to encourage a kind-hearted pop star to drop into town.  In short, we’ve done what families do when day-to-day squabbles and disagreements are rendered trivial by the unfair challenges being faced by a little girl and her family, or the crushing grief heaped upon the family of one of “our” deputies.

 And sometimes, as we may do during the noisy and occasionally contentious family holiday party, we have to step back, take a quiet look around, and offer grateful thanks for this family that we call “community.”  ~Chief John Camper

12 thoughts on “A Message from Chief Camper #ShareGJ

    March 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Beautifully said !!

    mamalain said:
    March 22, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    is difficult to separate the common thread of these remarks made by your Chief. As a 40 year dispatcher, I once dispatched to then Agent Camper at the beginning of his career. I recently made a visit to the Grand Junction communication center just a couple of weeks ago. My visit was twofold, to see Chief Camper and to also meet the dispatch staff. In my career, I have never personally been involved in the loss of an officer. My heart still grieves with all of your law enforcement community. On another note, I came to know the story of your dear Delaney when my daughter and grandchildren moved to the community. With some family ties, I have come to embrace the Grand Junction family.
    I am honored to know Chief Camper and applaud his message to all of you. In solidarity, I join him in his message of concern that binds all of us and I express my sincere condolences to the immediate families and to the community.
    With love and respect and prayers for healing light to shine your way.
    A 40 year dispatcher, a mother and ggrandmother
    Elaine Guzzo

    Nancy Lindwedel said:
    March 22, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you, Officer Camper … and your fine blue force … for keeping us safe …

    John Edwards said:
    March 22, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Very well said Sir. We can tell your comments were not rushed, but well thought out. We are at a loss. Whenever a death in our community happens weather known by the masses or not, we loose, we loose a little bit of ourselves. At the same time though, when a new life comes we are again made that much more whole. For as Easter is a reminder of new Hope, so is the new life. Thank you for your comments.

    Karen L. logan said:
    March 22, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    So beautiful, Grand Junction! I’m gra teful to get to read that wonderful letter written by your Police Chief! Many blessings to you all!

    Shirley Crane said:
    March 22, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you Chief for your letter to help us all heal. It is remarkable to read such a letter to our community and is greatly appreciated.

    Curtis strain said:
    March 22, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you Chief for helping all of us keep things in prospective.

    Diane Anglim said:
    March 22, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Such beautiful, thoughtful words from an obviously remarkable leader in our community. I have never personally met him but I have met many of the people who work for him and they reflect this same caring spirit. Thank you all for what you do in this community.

    Carla said:
    March 22, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Chief Camper, you are such an asset to our community. Your words should make everyone proud that they live in this community under your watch. Thank you.

    Tana Mantlo Foote said:
    March 23, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Sir thank you for sharing your thoughts. Very well said! My family has been a Grand Junction need eve for over 100 years and we take pride in her fami need eve for over 100 years and we take pride in our valley. My father was the late R.T. Mantlo and I truly don’t believe there was a man that cared about or loved Grand Junction more. So you’re words once again make me proud of the valley were I go grew up!
    Bless you!
    Tana Mantlo Foote

    Douglas Rushing said:
    March 23, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Chief you are an asset to this community. Your loyalty to our community is crystal clear. The comments you have made support that loyalty and your love of community. The people you mentions, Deputy Geer and Delaney were gems in that community. I miss Commander Gregg Assemacher who contributed so much to the Department. In his last years his work on Cold Cases was stellar. The Department can continue that work with the community. Please do so.

    Verna K. Kassersa said:
    March 24, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    That was a very nice story and very well said! Thank you for all of your hard work along with the rest of the force, I have said since we moved here from WI. almost 13 years ago that your PD force and your Drug tasks are the finest. I haven’t forgotten CO. State Patrol all are the best. Thank you for your hard work and your commitment to all of us! See you when you pick your wife up!

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